Today’s food world is a vastly different place than it was just four years ago, thanks to a variety of forces that have reshaped our attitudes and behaviors around food. These forces have influenced the key consumer drivers that have had the most power to propel culinary trends: Health & Wellness, Authentic Appeal, Artisan Appreciation and Local & Sustainable, according to the recently released “A Look Backward & Forward Culinary Trend Mapping Report,” a joint publication of the San Francisco-based strategic food and beverage innovation agency CCD Innovation and market research publisher Packaged Facts, Rockville, MD.
This special edition of the bi-monthly food and beverage trend report tracks some of the big ways we think differently about food in 2013, starting with the increased and enduring presence of more authentic regional foods from around the world.
“Due to paradigm as well as demographic shifts, global flavors have become celebrated as part of the norm for America’s diverse consumers,” says Kimberly Egan, CEO of CCD Innovation. “Separating out what we used to call ethnic food from mainstream fare is no longer relevant. We are living in an multicultural culinary era.”
Among the other influential food landscape game changers are:
• The proliferation of food and social media
• The vast increase in retail channels for food purchases including farmers markets and drugstores, and new foodservice outlets such as food trucks
• The growth of the natural foods channel and embrace of local, seasonal and sustainable fare
• Consumers increasingly expectation to know where their food comes from and what is in it, and having the tech tools to access this information
The report focuses on trend movement over the last four years, checking back on past trends and tracking their movement across CCD Innovation’s proprietary Trend Map. The report also goes in-depth to specifically chart some early stage restaurant and packaged food and beverage trends by daypart or product category, as well as profiling the following key trends and what to expect from them in the future, including:
Chia Seeds: Well-informed natural food lovers and wellness subscribers, always on the look-out for the next star ingredient, got excited about chia because of its many nutrients and its ease of use. Add hard-core runners to the mix, then health-seeking women often chatting on blogs and Facebook, and you have a lot of momentum.
The New Cocktail: The sheer number of Generation Y cocktail lovers and a well-organized spirits and cocktail industry helped move New Cocktails out of trendy bars and speakeasies and onto chain restaurant menus.
Third Wave Coffee: The growing food movement with its values in artisan production, connoisseur collecting, and sustainable food production is popular among younger coffee drinkers, many excited to try new Third Wave coffee products and identify with a broader urban identity to be found in the hip cafés where these brews are served.
Quinoa: Consumers are turning to quinoa to answer a number of needs—for a superfood packed with protein, as a way to lose weight, as a gluten-free food, as a vegetarian protein, as a gluten-free baking ingredient and as a representative of still-exotic Peruvian cuisine, an up-and-comer on the global culinary scene.
Coconut Water: The increase in the Asian and Hispanic populations can be considered a force behind coconut water. The growth of the natural foods channel has given both products a home, along with the increase in beverage cases in convenience stores, drug stores and campus foodservice for coconut water.
Farm-Raised Seafood: Local & Sustainable issues around seafood have pushed Farm-Raised Seafood to the top of the Trend Map®. In QSRs and mainstream grocery stores, most of the fish is farmed because wild stocks have been decimated. These issues will continue to play out with meat and poultry in the years to come.
Greek Yogurt: Greek Yogurt has benefited from the power of several drivers, first and foremost Wholesome Nutrition, under the broader Health & Wellness category. Interest in Digestive Health, also under this umbrella, increased sales of probiotic-rich yogurt across the board while simultaneously influencing the rise of Gluten-Free foods. Authentic Appeal also comes into play as many consumers connect thick, creamy Greek-style yogurt with its Old World roots.
Salty Sweets: Salty Sweets, whether in the form of salted caramel and chocolate or other savory combos (think Pretzel M&Ms), tapped into the recession-driven Comfort & Indulgence trend. Artisan candy makers and pastry chefs in the lower stages of the Trend Map® leveraged this more sophisticated combo, reigniting interest in a long-time palate pleasing flavor profile.
The report concludes with a strategic analysis of opportunities for the future by consumer driver and by daypart.